25 October 2021
If you want spooky, paranormal, or monsters, take a look at some of our Halloween board game picks
“I’m sure it’s nothing.”, “I’ll go check it out alone”, and “let’s split up,” are the fear inducing words that guarantee you’re next. When Halloween loops around each year though, we get the itch to put ourselves into their fearful shoes, getting our spooky, paranormal, or horror filled fix from the opportunities presented in the hobby. With a mixture of ghosts, gruesome creatures, unexpected deaths and more, there’s something a little unsettling about this list of games…
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1. Mysterium Park
The follow up to Mysterium, this game sees a wayward ghost communicating with you some murky details of their death, using cards that depict abstract scenes. It’s difficult to know if the cat sat on a house means that the murder weapon was the dagger, but that’s on you to figure out. Mysterium Park ups and moves from the Manor to the Circus, offers a lower player count, and even more of that air of mystery and murder we loved of its predecessor. Leave the séance board where it is, and enter Mysterium Park…
2. Curse of Strahd
With any RPG it’s simple to homebrew a little spookiness into the mix, but Curse of Strahd pulls in all of the gothic horrors of Castle Ravenloft, with a vampire Count and an ominous dinner invitation. With the revamped edition premium offering some extra elements – a coffin shaped box, postcards with which to invite others, a tarokka deck, a DM screen and more – you needn’t limit your horror simply to Spooktober.
3. Zombie Teenz Evolution
Adults shouldn’t have all the fun at Halloween, and student-brain-seeking-zombies are a great way to invoke the unnatural with every member of the family. Zombie Teenz Evolution has you saving your own from cartoon-like zombies, in a legacy style game that has you opening envelopes as you proceed through the game. You’re going to attempt to collect four ingredients to brew the antidote needed to save the world. The game is all the more perfect if you’ve played the two that preceded it.
4. Planet Apocalypse
If the zombies of Zombie Teenz Evolution felt a little too cartoonish, try heading to the other end of the spectrum with Planet Apocalypse, with an overwhelming amount of hellish fiends to fend off in the waves they’ll appear in. Swarms of demons of all kinds will head straight for you, and whilst one or two sounds manageable, you’ll end up wondering if there are any left in hell at all. Considering it’s from Petersen Games, with founder Sandy Petersen having worked on games such as Quake and Doom, it’s hardly surprising, but that doesn’t make it any less tense.
5. Blood on the Clocktower
So far mostly only seen at conventions, but with fingers crossed for an imminent release, Blood on the Clocktower is a social deduction game in which a demon walks amongst you in the quiet village of Ravenswood Bluff. Split into groups of good and evil, the day phase sees you trade secrets and lies, with a majority vote for an evil player resulting in their execution. By night, players close their eyes the storyteller wakens them to cause additional mischief. It’s a supernatural theme for the fun of a social deduction game, working especially well in larger groups.
If you spend your Halloweens watching the classics (no, not Hocus Pocus, we’re talking Frankenstein, Dracula, etc), then Horrified is where they’re unleashed onto the tabletop. You’re going to need to complete quests against the clock, but also against the terror caused by said monsters, in a terror meter that keeps the pace quick. Each time a hero is hospitalised, or a villager killed, the meter marker moves up. However, despite its serious undertones from classic scary films, it’s light enough to play with the wider family – somewhat unusual for the theme.
7. Arkham Horror: The Card Game
The list would have been empty without Cthulhu somewhere amidst it, and whilst there are so many different options, the Card Game feels like a classic choice. In a game where you must learn (quickly) that you won’t always win, you must try your best not to go insane, as who knows what’s really amidst the mythos? Of course, there are a ton of ways to expand on the core set (see p54), which means you can easily find a whole new game to lose your mind over.
8. Betrayal Legacy
Betrayal at House On The Hill could easily make this list alone, but what if you added in a legacy element to exploring the spooky old home? Now you represent families throughout the generations. If you kill someone in one chapter, you have to be prepared for them to return and haunt your descendants, decades down the line. It would seem there is no escaping the horrors of your past…
9. Resident Evil
In an impressive video game to tabletop game conversion, Steamforged Games have offered us the series of Resident Evil games, with one even heading to Kickstarter just a few short days after this magazine becomes available. If you like your Zombies aggressive and scary, and your games cooperative and action based, this is one to take a look at. Based, of course, on the Capcom video games of the same names, you’ll see and play as familiar characters amidst Raccoon City.
10. Alien RPG
After winning our award for the 2021 Best Way to Die in an RPG (following its win of the much less formal 2020 award of the same name), brutal death feeds into an overall Halloween feel, before you even consider the fear inducing, heart racing-ly tense campaign the RPG offers. Sit down to your tabletop, become absorbed into the cinematic horrors, only to die horribly by way of acid rain, or be turned into an egg. Well, it’s festive for the period, right?
This article originally appeared in issue 60 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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